Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Lohri—from all corners of India these harvest festivals seem to be giving us the exact same message: eat local, seasonal food to equip your bodies and mind to deal with the hard work that comes with the onset of the harvest season.
Without adequate fuel or nutrients the body will not be able to celebrate the opportunity to be active and instead will want to put the alarm on snooze. The main nutrient that these festivals celebrate is what modern nutrition calls ‘essential fat’. Coconut, til, groundnuts, milk, ghee, each one of them is loaded with fats that are unique in their molecular structure, lending them an ability to allow the body to burn fat over other available fuels like carbs or protein.
Technically, the body is supposed to have unlimited stores of body fat that can be burned, and if we can use what sports nutrition calls an ‘ergogenic aid’, a nutrient which teaches or manipulates the body to burn more fat, we can see an increase in ‘endurance performance’, or stamina.
So if you are one of those who complains about lethargy in winters, who makes plans to workout but doesn’t get off the bed, maybe all that you need is some therapy. And just because this therapy comes along with a celebration, is good to taste, melts in your mouth and doesn’t have the seriousness and sadness of medicine doesn’t make it any less potent. So bring on that chiki, gajak, ladoo, pongal and yes, have it exactly the way it is meant to be—with joy, family, laughter and with generous doses of the other goodies.
Yes gajak my favorite winter sweet. Anyone I know who goes north or comes to visit from north is to get me a gajak tax. Though now happily, I can get decent gajak in Bangalore itself. However, a gajak variety I picked, accidently once from Gwalior, was to die for.
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